Which teams will give the New York Jets front seven the most trouble?
The quality of the opposing offensive lines on a given team’s schedule is an extremely important factor in determining the difficulty of that team’s path to the playoffs. A schedule littered with porous front-fives can make for smooth sailing. Conversely, one that is loaded with immovable units can lay the groundwork for a difficult season.
What does the Jets’ 2020 schedule look like when it comes to offensive line quality?
13. Los Angeles Rams
2019 ranking: 27th
The Rams did a simply horrendous job of handling this unit in the 2020 offseason. After watching their once-elite unit sputter through a poor season in both pass protection and the run game, they did nothing to fix it. Absolutely nothing. Los Angeles did not make a single outside addition in free agency or via trade, and in the draft, their only pick allocated to the offensive line was a seventh-rounder (Tremayne Anchrum).
Andrew Whitworth is the only intimidating force on the unit. Likely on his way to the Hall of Fame, the 38-year old was still PFF’s 15th-ranked left tackle in 2019, but that was his worst-graded season since 2008. He also committed a career-high 14 penalties. Headed into his 15th season, more regression is likely on the way for Whitworth. If he does take a step back, the Rams may not have a single above-average starter on the unit.
12. Miami Dolphins
Italicized players were added in the 2020 offseason.
2019 ranking: 32nd
Potential starters: T Austin Jackson (first-round pick), G Robert Hunt (second-round pick)
As badly as the Jets offensive line played in 2019, it was substantially better than Miami’s. That is how remarkably awful the Dolphins’ front-five was. Miami ranked last in almost every imaginable category related to offensive line play, and usually by a wide margin.
Miami invested plenty of assets into the pressing weakness. The unit should no longer be a complete disaster in 2020, but it will take some time until the group can fully come into its own, so another bottom-half finish is likely.
Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras will provide moderate short-term boosts, while each possessing the potential to continue improving considering their lack of experience. In 2019, Flowers was PFF’s 18th-ranked left guard after never playing any snaps at guard prior to the year. He finished the season as the sixth-ranked left guard from Weeks 11-17. Karras was PFF’s 20th-ranked center in his first season as a full-time starter, and placed sixth at the position from Weeks 12-17.
First-round pick Austin Jackson (USC) and second-round pick Robert Hunt (Louisiana) lay the long-term foundation.
11. Seattle Seahawks
2019 ranking: 25th
Nobody mitigates pressure like Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks could be asking their franchise quarterback to carry the entire offense yet again.
Right tackle is a battle between two career liabilities in Ogbuehi and Shell. Neither Finney nor Hunt has experience as a full-time starting center. Brown will soon be 35 years old and is entering his 13th season while Iupati is 33 and entering his 11th season. The Seahawks do not have a player with starting experience at right guard.
Seattle’s offensive line is a hodgepodge of players who are either way past their prime or have yet to show an extended stretch of strong play – and are lacking experience with one another. The world of 2020 in which practice time is limited will not be kind to teams that do not have chemistry. That is especially true at offensive line, a position built around communication.
Expect this unit to struggle massively. Quinnen Williams and company need to take full advantage of it if the Jets are going to claim their first win in Seattle since 1997.